IS AACRAO and NACES approval enough to make a foreign degree legitimate?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by laferney, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. laferney

    laferney Member

    If a foreign doctoral program is evaluated by a member of NACES or AACRAO and found to be equal to a US doctoral degree is that sufficient for Degreeinfo members to accept that degree as legitimate or GAAP?
    Although there are alot of "fake" foreign degree credential eval services out there these 2 seem to be acceptable. Would there be any real doubt if the doctorate was evaluated by one them and found comparable?
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Don't forget the "G" in "GAAP" stands for "Generally."
  3. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    The fact that the degree, regardless of the level, is deemed equivalent would make it acceptable. This is of course, assuming the evaluation is done by a reliable source.

    As to your question of doubt regarding the evaluation. This would depend on the human being/s doing the hiring. Is the employer familiar with foreign degree evaluations? Is this a private or public firm? In government, the policies regarding foreign degree evaluations are clearly spelled out, so they are very familiar with the process. If the individual meets the qualifications and is desirable, he or she will considered along with their evaluated education. In highly technical fields, I am sure private industry is pretty familiar with the foreign degree process, so I wouldn't worry too much.

    Good luck,

  4. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I'd take it as strong evidence that it's legit, but nothing's incontrovertible. Do you have a foreign program in mind?

  5. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I can't speak for Degreeinfo members, only for myself. But that's probably part of your answer right there. You are probably going to get different answers depending on who you ask and on how you propose to use the degree.

    If you want to use a foreign degree in a regulated profession, then your answer will have to come from the appropriate regulatory board. It's conceivable that a foreign degree might pass muster with AACRAO but won't include specified coursework or practical experiences necessary to qualify you for a license.

    If you want a particular employer, client or colleague to be impressed, then that's up to the individuals involved.

    Just in general though, I'd be strongly inclined to accept the AACRAO's judgement, unless I thought that I had good reason to do otherwise.

    One possible area of concern might be the difference between credential-evaluation and accreditation.

    Foreign credential evaluators examine syllabi to determine which American degrees they most resemble in terms of qualitative and quantitative content. University degrees have lots of different names around the world, particularly outside the Anglophone orbit. Degrees with the same name aren't always equivalent, while degrees with different names might easily be.

    An accreditor on the other hand examines the university that teaches the syllabus to determine its academic and institutional soundness. My understanding is that credential evaluators typically defer to the judgements of foreign education authorities on the accreditation issue.

    In a few cases that's led to difficulties. Just think 'Liberia' and 'St. Regis University'. But to their credit, the more competent evaluators don't seem to have fallen for that one.

    But nevertheless, if I was confronted with a foreign degree from a school I didn't recognize, in a jurisdiction where academic standards are unknown or suspect (to me at least), then I might want to investigate the foreign university a little bit, even if its degree came with a glowing credential evaluation. I'd probably Google the school and the subject of the degree to see how the academic, governmental and professional communities are responding to them. But again, that's just me.
  6. laferney

    laferney Member

    The University in question is the Universidad de Central Nicaragua.
    They have an international program done European style by research or published works. They reportedly have a medical and nurisng school on campus and graduates of these programs are licensed in their own country.
    and the school is listed on the Consejo Nacionale de universidades.
    I am an adjunct teacher at a local college and have a MA and a CAGS. The college will accept a foreign doctorate for teaching if it is AACRAO or WES (NACES ) evaled as equal to a US doctorate.
    Would a degree from Nicaragua be seen as inferior? I've seen Degree holders and distance degree students here considering degrees from So. Africa and various Asian universities. If a degree is evaluated by AACRAO as equivilent they are are seen as legitimate by the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization.
    If this degree is seen as equivilent by a NACES or AACRAO reviewer it would meet my employment and personal needs. (Although my CAGS has been fine for teaching at the community colleges I've taught.)
    There will always be schools seen as inferior-even RA ones. My question is whether AACRAO and NACES reputation is (as RICH said) "generally" favorable and accepted. They seem to be the gold standard in this area.
  7. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Wasn't there some huge controversy on one of the boards about a Nicaraguan university that was legitimate but that someone argued was overstepping its authorization by offering doctoral programs? I don't remember the specifics, so I don't know whether this was it or not.

    In what field of study do you plan to do research? Out of all of the universities in the world, what's drawn you to that one?

  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Almost. The school in question is Empresarial University in Costa Rica. To my knowledge, their degree awarding authority does not extend to the doctorates their U.S. agent(s) award(s). It looks more like a rental situation, where the U.S. agent rents the school's authority, while the school turns a blind eye to events occurring outside its home country.
  9. laferney

    laferney Member

    YES Empressarial and some other Costa Rican universities as Southern Christian University are accredited by CONESUP up to the Bachelors or Master's level but not to offer Doctorates. (which they have done to American students)
    What attracts me is the Doctorate by published works. A "unifying paper" is required. The price is as cheap as some of the doctoral distance programs in So. Africa. It is recognized by the Nicaraguan govt and their graduates are eligible for licensing in their own country-one of the requirements the ODA looks for when looking for "degree mills"
    I'm looking for any evidence the program is a degree mill and haven't been able to find any YET. They are confident they will be seen positively by AACRAO and NACES. That is the core to my question. I know degree mills have made it on some lists of accredited schools and I know there are many fake foreign degree evaluation services out there. So what is the BEST way we have to determine if these foreign programs are valid? Since the ODA looks to AACRAO and most universities/organizations use AACRAO or a NACES member I believe they are the way.
  10. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    So in other words, you have a set of scholarly papers that have been published in peer reviewed publications, and they have a program where they evaluate those and oversee your putting together a synthesis paper, and award you a PhD on completion?

  11. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Here's the thread:

    Iaferney posted a communication from Universidad Christina del Sur that included this (highlighting in red by me):

    A Google search for "universidad central de nicaragua" generated two hits. The same search for "central university of nicaragua" didn't produce any hits.

    So, despite its offering doctoral degrees, this institution doesn't seem to have been noticed by American academia. Perhaps there's nothing to notice.

    What UCN does seem to offer is the hollow shell of a doctorate, the "GAAP accreditation" without the content. Formal Nicaraguan recognition might allow somebody to use the title "Doctor" without violating some of the increasingly draconian American degree-use laws, but a UCN doctorate doesn't impress me as an academic qualification at this point.
  12. laferney

    laferney Member

    Yes I have multiple published papers in journals, magazines and a book chapter. One paper has been cited as a model for nurses to use when doing evidence based research and the theme is the social psychology of nurses-specifically how nurses make decisions and how their cognitive patterns affect patient care, including pain medication and medication to control behaviors. Some of my papers are long -some short. A unifying paper is required. A jury reviews the work through your advisor and determines whether to award the degree. In addition I have advanced gradauate work -a CAGS which is 30 additional credits past a Masters plus a project.
    Some degreeinfoers are supportive of the "PHD by publication " route and others, most likely the majority, the traditional thesis/dissertaiton route.
    As for Bill's observation:
    "the "GAAP accreditation" without the content. Formal Nicaraguan recognition might allow somebody to use the title "Doctor" without violating some of the increasingly draconian American degree-use laws, but a UCN doctorate doesn't impress me as an academic qualification at this point."

    I agree with him. But if it is acceptable to AACRAO, NACES and the institution I teach at then I could live with it because while the quality of the institution may be questioned my work is not. If anyone doubts me try publishing 15 papers.
    Of course I'm not looking for a degree mill. I will have to feel the degree is valid and useful. I'm looking for a legitimate degree based on real work - not a Harvard degree -but acceptable to recognized evaluators. Who know if AACRAO or A NACES will find it equivalent until it is reviewed? So I appreciate the questions and observations given so far.
  13. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Ultimately, if it meets your needs and isn't fraudulent, then there you go. I don't inherently have a problem with a program like the one you describe; the purpose of a PhD is to show that one has made a scholarly contribution to a discipline's body of knowledge, and I realize that having published a series of peer reviewed papers satisfies that. I suppose what would concern me about UCN is what their processes are and how thorough they are in only approving peer reviewed research. For example, I can see how it would be tempting for a university that offers real programs to bolster their finances from a program like this that slowly gets less and less rigorous.

    I think one of the things that gives me pause is this page on their site. They really go overboard talking about how legitimate they are, and while they seem to be making a good argument, it's been my experience that the more excited an institution is to talk about its legitimacy, the less real it often turns out to be.

    Note that I'm not saying they're not for real. I'll be the first to admit I haven't done the first bit of research on UCN, and for all I know this is an innovative program that's worthy of much greater attention. I'll actually be really interested in what you find out from AACROA and whichever NACES members you contact. (I recommend J. Silny for this, by the way, as they're in Miami and specialize in Latin America.) Will you let us know what they say?

  14. laferney

    laferney Member

    I am going to submit it to WES as that is the NACES member the school I teach at suggests. I'll let you know. I was concerned about that too- you might be right. But I will let you know the outcome.
  15. bullet

    bullet New Member



    You need to find the legitimacy in your actions, not via the opinions of others. If the agency you use considers the credentials legitimate then one billion opinions of others mean zilch. If you can`t find the legitimacy in your actions then don`t do it.
  16. laferney

    laferney Member

    "You need to find the legitimacy in your actions, not via the opinions of others. If the agency you use considers the credentials legitimate then one billion opinions of others mean zilch. If you can`t find the legitimacy in your actions then don`t do it."
    I don't know what your'e trying to say. Of course the opinion of others matters-this is why this Discussion forum exists! I value every response I get. Now if you're saying that if NACES and AACRAO says it is legitimate I shouldn't be too concerned if others don't then I can agree with you.
    That was my original question -we have standards. On this site we have RA and NA as standards in deciding whether a degree is legitimate. Then we look at professional accreditation as APA etc. I posed the question -is NACES and AACRAO the standard for accepting "Foreign degrees"? If a foreign degree isn't acceptable to them or is considered equivelent by a non-NACES or AACRAO evaluation agency I consider it suspect,
    AS for " If you can`t find the legitimacy in your actions then don`t do it."
    I do find my actions legitimate but I see nothing wrong in asking my fellow DEgreeinfoers for opinions to help shape my decisons.
  17. Stanislav

    Stanislav Well-Known Member

    I admit I like the idea. This way, they can sell a PhD program with very little real expertise pocessed by their faculty - and the result would be hard to dismiss, as all the work have been peer-reviewed. Of course, they could fall for a "Bogdanoff affair"-class work, but even in this case, they can defend their process - after all, the original Bogdanoff affair happened at the very real French university.
    As for the original question, provided UCN does not break Nicaraguan regulations and a reputed agency give the degree a favourable evaluation, I think it is perfectly OK to use such a credential - in a situation where the degree is a mere "check in the box".
  18. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I think Bullet meant to say something encouraging -- that if you weigh everything and conclude that it's a legitimate process, then don't be concerned if there are others who disagree. (And this is probably good advice, in that even if AACRAO or WES say it's legitimate, surely there will be naysayers.)

  19. colmustard

    colmustard New Member

    Was Empresarial University of Costa Rica recognized to grant PhD ever?

    I see on the posts it has been granted authority to grant undergraduate and masters but not PhDs. Does anyone have authoritative evidence of its true status. Even though it may be listed by AACRAO or a NACES does not mean it is authorized or recognized by regional accrediting bodies in the US to grant PhDs. Any help?
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Regional accreditors have nothing to do with authorizing or recognizing Empresarial to award particular degrees, Ph.D.'s or others.

    It is difficult to prove the non-existence of something. Notice, however, that Empresarial offers no support regarding its doctoral-level authority.

    Here are my first-hand activities and observations:

    -- Talked to a Dr. Cannon here in the U.S. (Georgia) several years ago about Empresarial and the doctoral programs. He was running them from the U.S.

    -- Talked to the Costa Rican Embassy here in Washington. They knew of Empresarial and said the school's authority was through the master's.

    -- There is no research "footprint" for Empresarial.

    -- If Empresarial really is running a set of doctoral programs, where are they? Where's the doctoral research community? Where's the faculty? Where's the research?

    My take: Empresarial is renting its name to these people running the "thing" from the U.S. Costa Rican authorities don't care because it is happening outside the country. U.S. authorities don't care because it is a foreign school. When we (John Bear and me first-hand, Gus Sainz and others through their research) uncovered the activities of the Monterrey Institute for Graduate Studies (MIGS), we found the same thing: a recognized foreign university (in this case, the CEU in Monterrey, Mexico) agreeing to allow people in the U.S. to operate programs under their name and degree-granting authority, but without serious involvement from the home campus. I think Empresarial is the same thing. But I could be wrong.

    NB: MIGS's undoing was two-fold. First, they sued (unsuccessfully and quite ineptly) Steve Levicoff for things he said about them, but they did it in Texas where they didn't have authority to operate a school, foreign or otherwise. Texas authorities took note of this and punched MIGS in the gut for it. Second, when it was certain to me MIGS wasn't seriously connected to the CEU, I contactd the Florida state officials about MIGS's lack of license as a foreign school. MIGS subsequently applied, but their application was set aside as insufficient. It was about that time that (a) they settled the lawsuit with Levicoff (no money exchanged hands), (b) Texas fined them around a quarter of a million, and (c) the figurehead President of MIGS, Armando Arias, got hammered by his home school (UC Monterey, no relation) for his involvement in MIGS. MIGS went away. Empresarial lives because it flies under the radar, something MIGS's operators simply could not do.

Share This Page